english girl at home

A Sewing & Knitting Blog, Made in Birmingham, England


My 2020

Moomin Scarf

Happy New Year everyone! I haven’t made time for blogging very often this year, but I always really enjoy taking the time to reflect on, and sum up, the year just gone here on the blog.

FreeSewing Carlton Coat

I feel like I’ve sewn very few completed garments this year, but – thanks to Instagram providing a record – I can see that I actually made twelve items for myself and two for Phil. Favourites amongst those include the FreeSewing Carlton Coat I made for Phil at the start of the year, and the 1983 inspired garments I made while participating in the Sewcialists Sew Your Birth Year mini-challenge.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

At the start of lock-down in March, I decided to tackle a couple of alterations projects and finally finished my Closet Core Ginger Jeans (originally made a size too small) and altered an old favourite dress which had become too small. Later in the year, I attended an online Celia Pym darning workshop and fixed a tear in a much loved RTW jumper, which I have worn nonstop since.


My few months long obsession with Animal Crossing coincided with Me Made May, and I had loads of fun matching my outfit with my Animal Crossing character’s outfit each day in May. It quickly meant needing to recreate my wardrobe using the in-game design function, which was a really satisfying design challenge. I wouldn’t have managed to plan my outfits in that way, or to get a daylight photo each day, if I had been in the office, so it was one of the positives of lockdown for me.

Kate Davies The Observatory Hap

In addition to sewing, I finished 4 knitted accessories (hap, beret, scarf, cape), including tackling a too-big Halloween jumper I started a year before, finishing it as a cape so that I could wear it in time for Halloween. After many years of meaning to knit baubles for our Christmas tree, this year I took part in the Arne & Carlos advent calendar and knitted 12 (of 24) baubles. I’ll probably knit the remaining 12 baubles next winter now, but the 12 completed baubles look great on the tree and already do a pretty good job of covering it.


I tried a few different crafts. Before lockdown, I attended a basket weaving course with Birmingham Guild, and during lockdown I had a go at bargello and punch needle. At the start of the year I set up a loom on my dining table, but failed to start weaving. I’m hoping to get the loom warped and make a start at learning to weave before I’m back at work in a week’s time!

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Phil and I were lucky to visit New York back in January, and we managed a holiday in Cornwall during the summer. The rest of the year we made a point of getting out of the house for a daily walk along the local canals. On some of those walks we collected elderflower (made into cordial, ‘champagne’, and ice cream) and blackberries (made into ice cream).

The events I (jointly) organise, the Sewing Weekender (with Kate & Rachel from The Fold Line), and SewBrum (with Lauren Guthrie) still went ahead this year by moving online. The fifth Sewing Weekender and seventh SewBrum were the most well attended and successful yet! 1,941 sewists, from 37 countries, attended the Sewing Weekender, raising £23,610 for charity. 678 people signed up for SewBrum, with over 100 people joining a live bargello workshop led by Tina Francis, and £2,763 raised for charity. Thanks to the Sewing Weekender and SewBrum, I took part in a podcast for the first time, discussing the events in two episodes of the Sew Organised Style Podcast.

The Smiths Screenprinted Seamwork Tees

I continued volunteering for the Association of Guilds of Weavers, Spinners and Dyers, with my stint as newsletter editor due to finish in 2021 after five years! During 2020 I also volunteered as a Sewcialists temporary editor, getting particularly involved with the Sew Your Birth Year mini-challenge.

Finally, the biggest event for me has been preparing to launch my own sewing pattern company (and changing my social media accounts to Charlotte Emma Patterns to match). It really has taken me the whole year to get to this point, having taken the very first steps this time last year. I’m now working with a great pattern cutter and grader, and brilliant local designer, and am hoping to finally launch my first pattern this January. I have other patterns well underway so fingers crossed I will have a few releases under my belt by this time next year.

Thanks for reading & very best wishes for 2021!


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Lions & Tigers Inari Tee Dress

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

We’re currently in Cornwall for a few days holiday. I could have driven, but decided to get the train down so that I could use the time to knit. It was a very successful train journey as I read two magazines, finished knitting a scarf, and listened to an audiobook.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

During our first full day on holiday, yesterday, I wore this new-ish Inari Tee Dress to go for a long walk and to sit on the beach (where I added tassels to my scarf, and made a start on the second knitting project I packed). Wearing it reminded me that I ought to blog about it before winter is here.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

This fabric was one of three I purchased when we visited Japan in 2017. It’s a double gauze with a lion and tiger print made by Kokka and purchased in Tomato. I bought it with the intention of sewing this dress – Named’s Inari Tee Dress – and three years later I have.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

I haven’t sewn as many new outfits for myself this year, as I’ve been busy with test sewing for my forthcoming patterns, but I got the sudden urge to sew this dress one weekend last month. I knew I had sent the pattern for A0 printing sometime ago, but found the pattern pieces already cut out, and I made this dress in a day.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Past me had cut a straight size 38, but in future I might grade between sizes for more ease in the hips. It’s a really simple and satisfying sew. I used a tip I picked up recently – possibly from Threads Magazine – to start overlocking the bottom of the facing from the shoulder seam, rather than the centre back, so that it looks neater on the hanger.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Have a good week everyone. I’m off for a walk on the beach followed by a pasty for lunch.

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

Double Gauze Named Inari Tee Dress

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Pattern Testers Wanted

Test image saying 'pattern testers wanted'

Since the start of 2020, I’ve been preparing to launch an independent sewing pattern company.

My first pattern is almost ready for release (later this year), and I would HUGELY appreciate it if you’re able to volunteer to test the pattern, to help catch any issues with the instructions or the pattern which have been missed.

The first pattern is aimed at intermediate sewers and is an outerwear pattern for a shaped slim-fitting jacket (sneak peek at the design at the bottom of this post).

If you are interested in helping this test this, or other upcoming patterns, please do sign-up using my pattern testing form. Before each pattern release, I’ll contact the people signed up to this list to share more information about the pattern (description & line drawing) and the time-frame for testing, to confirm who is available & interested in testing that pattern.

If you are interested in testing but aren’t comfortable testing an intermediate design or aren’t interested in this specific pattern, do still sign up to test future patterns.

More details on the patterns and the testing process are provided below.

The Patterns:

  • The patterns are PDF only, and include A4/US Letter & A0 copy shop printing options.
  • The patterns include two size ranges (pictured below). The first is range 4-22 based on a B-cup block. The second is range 20-36 based on a D-cup block.
  • The patterns have been developed with a professional pattern cutter and grader, and with two fit models.
B-Cup size range image
B-Cup size range image

Pattern Testing:

  • Pattern testers will be given approximately one month to undertake testing.
  • Testers will receive a copy of the final pattern on its release, and I will send an A0 copy of the pattern to testers where preferred.
  • Pattern testers will be asked to sew the pattern and to provide feedback on the instructions (e.g. do you have the information you need, are the instructions easy to follow?) and on the pattern (labels, notches, etc.). 
  • There will be no requirement for pattern testers to promote the pattern or to provide photos for promotional purposes.
  • Everyone is very welcome (no need for a social media presence), although to keep it manageable I will manage the number of testers per pattern and size.
  • Pattern testers will be invited to contribute feedback (& chat to each other) via a Slack group, or can send feedback directly to me if preferable.
  • All feedback will be very much valued and responded to.

If you are able to help out, please sign-up as a tester here.

A sneak peek of the line drawing for my first upcoming pattern release is below:

Line drawing of a shaped slim fitting jacket

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SewBrum 2020 – Online

This year would have been the seventh SewBrum sewing meet-up, a free-to-attend sewing meet-up in Birmingham, UK.

I announced a date for this year’s SewBrum before we understood the full impact of coronavirus. After which, it became increasingly clear that a large meet-up wouldn’t be sensible or practically possible (the shops we visit all have social distancing measures in place), so we (me and co-host Lauren Guthrie) decided to take SewBrum online!

SewBrum will take place online on Saturday 17th October, and you can register to receive all of the details below or via the event page.

Full details will be shared with registered attendees as we approach the 17th October, but the day will include:

With no need to travel to Birmingham, we hope attendees will be able to join us from across the UK, and beyond.

International attendees – please note that the raffle, and kits for the bargello workshop, will be UK-only due to postage costs/delays. You are still welcome to join the bargello workshop, but will need to purchase supplies locally.

The finalised schedule for the day will be shared soon, but we will be starting with video (and written) messages from indie businesses in Birmingham and the Midlands, which will be shared via the event page and emailed to registered attendees.

Featured business will include SewBrum co-host Guthrie & Ghani, local fabric shops, and textile-artists and makers.

In the afternoon, attendees will get together online for a live bargello stitch workshop with Birmingham-based textile artist Tina Francis. The workshop will be free to attend, and attendees can purchase a supplies kit from Tina to participate (full details to follow).

In the meantime, follow Tina on Instagram and have a look at her recently published book, Modern Bargello.

We will also be hosting a raffle of sewing-themed prizes (a SewBrum favourite), with all money raised being donated to Birmingham and Solihull Women’s Aid & Birmingham Mind. Tickets will be sold online in advance via a JustGiving page (full details to follow). Raffle prize winners will be drawn live, following Tina’s workshop.

I hope SewBrum regulars can join us online, and if you haven’t been able to join us before perhaps this is the year!

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More Paper Bag Trousers & Holiday Pics

Simplicity 8605

Another weekend, another blog post featuring past holiday photos! A combination of not being able to go on holiday this year, and not having many recent projects to share, has led me to revisit a number of projects I photographed but never blogged – including these Simplicity 8605 paper bag waist trousers.

Simplicity 8605

This is my second pair of these trousers (first pair blogged here). They are really easy to make (5 pattern pieces including the belt), and to fit (loose fit and an elastic waist). They’re a great option to pack for a holiday as they are comfortable and easy to wear (and in the polyester version here, don’t wrinkle), but they’ve also been great for wearing around the house this summer. If you haven’t made any trousers before and want to give them a try, a simple design like this is a great place to start.

Simplicity 8605

In these pictures, the trousers are paired with another old make which hasn’t previously made it to the blog. The top above is also a Simplicity pattern, 8593 which is a re-released vintage top pattern. Simplicity refer to it as a poncho blouse, and it’s basically a rectangular design, with detail at the neckline and side-ties, which is wrapped over itself and tied at the front and back. I was interested in trying this different design, but in reality I found it irritating to wear. The side seams inevitably gape (Exhibit A, the picture above), so you need to wear something underneath, and the top moves about a lot while worn. I actually relegated this top to my fabric scraps tub before the top made it to the blog. The fabric – which is a lovely soft cotton from Cloth House – also faded quickly after a few washes.

Simplicity 8605

I haven’t mentioned it previously, but I’ve been working on developing some sewing patterns which I’m aiming to begin releasing later this year. All of the work involved in getting them ready for release has kept me really busy over the last few months – and meant that most of my recent sewing has been to test the patterns. It’s also meant that the various other craft projects which I got excited to begin during lock-down (new knitting project, bargello, shoe-making, weaving, etc.) haven’t gotten much further than buying supplies. If lock-down hadn’t removed most of my evening and weekend plans I don’t think I would ever have gotten them ready (and they aren’t there yet, so fingers crossed and head down).

Simplicity 8605

I feel like I’ve devoted quite a bit of this week to a thorough tidy and clean of the house (I can’t understand how it takes me as long as it does, but it consistently takes me FOREVER?), so I’m making the most of savouring it before the house reverts to its natural state of being messy and dirty again. I have a few ‘to-dos’ to complete today (including writing the overdue July newsletter for the Association of Weavers, Spinners & Dyers, which will now be the July/August edition!) but then I’m hoping to pick up one of my abandoned craft projects to enjoy in the calm of my tidy living room (subject to how messy a craft project I choose).

Simplicity 8605

Have a good weekend everyone.

Simplicity 8605

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Unblogged Freya Dress

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Weekend mornings are my favourite time to write blog posts, before the day begins in earnest, while the house and road still seem quiet. We are dropping our car off for an MOT in a couple of hours, probably followed by a long walk home, so I thought I’d make time before that to sit in my pyjamas and write about an old(ish) project which never made it to the blog.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Earlier this week, Susan Young posted a knit top on her Instagram account which she had managed to squeeze out of a remnant picked up from the Sewing Weekender fabric swap table. I recognised the fabric as one I had added to the swap table, and checked back on my blog for a picture of my project, and to remind myself where I bought the fabric, but I had never blogged about it.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I knew I had taken photos of this dress – a Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress, from the Stretch book – while on holiday in Vietnam, back in 2018. It took me a while to track down these photos, which had ended up stored on an external drive as I’ve swapped laptops in the meantime. These photos don’t do a brilliant job of showing off the dress (which is a bit washed out in the sunshine, and a bit overwhelmed by the amazing location, the temple ruins of My Son) but I’m glad it has finally made it to the blog.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

Thanks to the Cora App, I was also able to confirm that this fabric was purchased from Birmingham Rag Market and I apparently only bought two metres. I think Sue and I did well to get a dress and top out of those two metres! I’m not able to use the Cora App since moving to an Android phone, but up until around 2018 I had all my fabric catalogued on the app, and I’ve held on to my old iPhone solely to retain access to that info.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

For info, I think this Freya was size 3 and I cut the fabric strip for my ruffle 74cm long. I have made two other Freya’s, a zigzag dress and White Christmas top. The only downside of the ruffle Freya in a lightweight knit like this, is that the ruffle loses all structure after washing and needs careful pressing to regain its pleats, which is a level of effort you wouldn’t normally expect (or want) for a simple jersey dress.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I’ve put on weight since these photos were taken, and this dress left my wardrobe in the last clear-out. While a knit garment doesn’t become as potentially uncomfortable and restrictive as a woven garment after a weight change, there’s also less opportunity to wear them with a button open or as a layering piece. I had a wool pencil skirt which I regularly wore with the zipper only half zipped for years and years.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress

I’m going to get dressed and deliver my car for it’s MOT on time. I might have to look at what other projects I have photographed but never gotten around to blogging soon.

Tilly & the Buttons Freya Dress


Long Time Coming Ginger Jeans

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

It’s been a busy few weeks, so today we got away from the to-do lists and visited a few local independent businesses when we knew they wouldn’t be too busy. It was a welcome change of scenery and included some in-person fabric shopping for the first time in months, which was very exciting. I was after some knits in solid colours and different weighs, so exactly the kind of fabric shopping that is best in person.

Yesterday, we also took a longer than normal walk along the canal, where I got Phil to take a few photos of these jeans. I was going to blog them last night, but I sat down after the walk (which was just under two hours) and was too tired to write a word! Given how long these have taken to reach the blog, another day is neither here nor there.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

I’ve been planning to make these jeans ever since Closet Case Patterns released the Ginger Jeans pattern (which, unbelievably, was in 2014), as I’ve always been a great lover of a skinny jean. My plans moved along slightly in 2016, when I ordered a jeans hardware kit from Closet Case Patterns, and this denim (10.5 Oz Cone Mills S-Gene Denim in Dark Indigo) from Threadbare Fabrics. I timed this denim order with our first trip to New York, and had the order sent to our hotel, to save on shipping costs. I did the same on our most recent trip to New York with an order of on-sale Vogue patterns, but they took so long to arrive that I almost missed them – they arrived on our last morning as we were checking out. In comparison, Threadbare were really helpful, and timed posting the denim to suit the dates of our stay.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

The supplies then sat in my stash for three years. I decided that the best way to motivate myself to get started on this more involved project was to book on a jeans making workshop last August. I did mostly sew these up on that workshop, but I cut out the wrong size and, when I tried them on at the end of the weekend, I couldn’t do them up.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

So back in the stash they went, until I had a thorough tidy at the start of lock down, and pulled these out of my UFOs basket. To make these jeans fit, I added in the difference between the size of the pattern I cut (6/8) and the size I actually am (10) at the side seams. I was able to work out the difference from the pattern, and had enough denim left to cut side panels, although I did have to piece the denim together to make panels long enough. You can see the side panels in the next couple of photos.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

In order to add the side panels, I had to remove the waistband and unpick the side seams and top-stitching. Unfortunately, while the waistband was off I thoughtlessly did up the zip, pulling the zip pull off the top. I couldn’t find any short cuts for getting a metal jeans zipper pull back on, but managed to manually close the zip with my fingers, which was slow and frustrating, but allowed me to get the zipper pull back on!

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

The designs on the back pockets are my favourite part. These were on a dress I bought from a charity shop. I cut away the original dress fabric from around the flower motifs, and then zig-zag stitched over the top of these to attach them to the pockets (using different coloured threads for different parts of the flowers). I also added a Modista made in isewlation woven label to the back of the jeans, since these are one of my social distancing sewing projects.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

Six years on from the initial inspiration of the pattern release, I’m glad to say that these are now in rotation in my wardrobe. I need to revisit the UFOs basket to see what I can move from stash to wardrobe next.

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans

Closet Case Patterns Ginger Jeans


Linen Pietra Shorts

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

I decided to join in with the mini challenge Sew Over 50 are running this weekend (to share a previous holiday photo in a me-made garment), by finally posting about my Closet Case Patterns Pietra Shorts on the blog!

I hadn’t previously sewn shorts, as I don’t wear them very often, but on a previous holiday I threw my remaining RTW shorts into my suitcase, only to realise on arrival that they no longer fit me (and have to buy a pair while there).

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

I made these shorts last Autumn, just before heading to Dubrovnik for a week’s break. I got Phil to take so many photos of them while we were there, as every location we visited was more beautiful than the last, so a blog post was definitely in order!

I made a size 10, with no changes other than reducing the length of the elastic in the back waistband to pull them in sufficiently. The fabric was kindly gifted by Minerva and is Robert Kaufman Essex Yarn Dyed Homespun Linen Dress Fabric in the ‘Scarlet’ colourway. The mid-weight linen works really well for showing of the angular details of the shorts front, while also gathering well in the back. These shorts use more fabric than you might expect, due to the gathered back and overlapping front; I used 1.5 metres of fabric with minimal scraps left over.

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

I wore these shorts constantly during that holiday, and have been wearing them again this summer. I might wear them today for a longer local walk – I bought a book of Birmingham walks a few weeks ago. We’ve already completed the walks closest to home, and are now starting to get to those slightly further afield during the weekends. I’m someone who loves the opportunity to spend time at home, but having much more time than normal at home recently, I’ve found getting out of the house each day for a walk a very welcome break from work and personal to-do lists.

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

Closet Case Pietra Shorts

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The Sewing Weekender Online 2020

The Sewing Weekender 2020 logo

The Sewing Weekender Online, 13th – 14th June 2020

After organising (in collaboration with The Fold Line) four in-person Sewing Weekender events, we were expecting that we would need to skip a year, during 2020.

Then, inspired by other online events (in particular, an online beer festival Phil attended) we decided to move online. Running the event online this year has the added bonus that we don’t need to cap attendee numbers at 90, as we do for the in-person event. It also means that this year’s event can be international, as you don’t need to travel to Cambridge, UK to take part.

We’ve decided to donate all profits to charity this year, and will be splitting them 50/50 between two charities, NHS Charities Together and Mind. To enable us to do this, all of our contributors have donated their time for free, which we hugely appreciate.

So, how does it work? As at our in-person events, this is an informal sewing event. Work on a sewing project of your choice in your own home over the weekend of the 13th – 14th June. Share your plans and progress with other attendees using the hashtag #sewingweekender.

We have created a schedule of inspiring video talks, messages and more from sewing bloggers and independent businesses, to keep you entertained while you sew, which you can access by purchasing a ticket. By purchasing a ticket you’ll also receive a digital goodie bag, and donate to two excellent charities.

If you’d like to read more, you can read about the 2019 Sewing Weekender on my blog, and The Fold Line have blogged more information about this year’s event.

We hope you’ll really enjoy the weekend of the 13th- 14th June. If you’re someone who regular attends sewing meet-ups, then hopefully this will go someway towards not being able to this year, and if you haven’t attended a meet-up before this should be a gentle introduction to it – from the comfort of your own home.

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Me Made May 2020 (& Animal Crossing)


Before May began, I had gotten into the habit of wearing a few pairs of sweatpants on rotation, paired with a t-shirt or jumper depending on the weather. I was, however, spending time dressing my Animal Crossing character in a variety of outfits, hats and backpacks (if you’ve missed it, the new Animal Crossing Switch game was released near the end of March). I was probably spending more time getting dressed on Animal Crossing than in real life, and I was certainly having more fun with it.

I decided, spur of the moment on 01st May, that my Me Made May pledge this year would be to coordinate outfits with my Animal Crossing character each day, as a way to put more fun and more thought into getting dressed than I had been of late.

It took all of one day for me to realise that my wardrobe and my Animal Crossing character’s wardrobe (which includes a lot of fruit themed hats) don’t actually overlap very much. Luckily, Animal Crossing includes a ‘designer’ function where you can create custom clothing designs. I hadn’t tried this feature before Me Made May began, but I’m now an avid user.


The designer has fairly simple functionality – a single size of pixel art, and only a handful of (dress and top) clothing shapes – but I find the limitations really satisfying to work within. The limitations also mean that I can’t spend too long recreating each day’s outfit. I suspect it’s taking me a maximum of thirty minutes to create an outfit and then take that day’s Instagram pic on my tiny virtual model. Phil takes my photo each day, I take hers.

I highly doubt I would have found the time to participate in Me Made May in this way had I not been based at home currently. I’m working from home (and did regularly prior to Covid-19), but the time saved commuting to work, and the greater ease of slipping back into hobbies during breaks or at the end of the day, have allowed me to think about Me Made May and my wardrobe consistently every day. I haven’t gotten to any of the larger craft projects I wrote on a to-do list when social distancing first began, but I have spent a little bit of time each day exploring my wardrobe, and deciding how to recreate a favourite garment in miniature digital format.


Without further ado, here are some of the coordinated outfits for the first two weeks of May.

Grey rib:

Featuring a Seamwork Neenah & in-game AC clothing



Linden Dresses:

Mine previously blogged here; AC dress by me


Animal Crossing Me Made May 2020

Knitbot Trail Jackets:

Mine previously blogged here; AC jumper by me


Animal Crossing Me Made May 2020

French Dart Shifts:

Maven Patterns French Dart Shift (not yet blogged); AC version by me


Me Made May 2020

Cuba Libre Shirts:

Mine previously blogged here; AC shirt by me



Bibi & Pinnacle:

Mine previously blogged here; AC outfit by me



Sirocco Jumpsuits:

Mine is previously blogged here; AC version by me



Mustard & Stripes:

Hacked Linden (previously blogged here) & RTW skirt; AC outfit by me



Anna Dress & Victoria Blazer:

Mine previously blogged here and here; AC outfit by me



The Smiths Tees:

My outfit previously blogged here and here; AC t-shirt by me